The Rhino gave so many credibly twangy performances this Masked Singer season that the judges were convinced he was a country music superstar, even when he crooned tunes by John Hiatt, Niall Horan, the Jonas Brothers, or Smokey Robinson. This week alone, the panel was tossing out A-list Nashville names like Jason Aldean, Trace Adkins, Sam Hunt, and Blake Shelton.
But when the Rhino was de-horned at the end of Wednesday’s top four semifinals show, after singing Tim McGraw’s “Humble and Kind,” he turned out to be a different sort of all-star: Cy Young Award and World Series winner Barry Zito.
The Rhino’s identity wasn’t a curveball for everyone. Judge Jenny McCarthy guessed two episodes ago that this horny creature might be the former Oakland A’s/San Francisco Giants legend, and this week, suddenly Ken “I Know Exactly Who This Is” Jeong was convinced as well. I even pitched this theory a few weeks ago, as “Yahoo’s resident Masked Singer expert” (that’s totally going on my business card) for Yahoo Sports. But Nicole Scherzinger was skeptical, insisting, “There is no way that isn’t a singer.”
Well, Nicole wasn’t wrong. Barry is a singer. Unlike most of the athletes who’ve competed on this show, who can’t carry a tune nearly as well as they can carry a ball (Rob “The White Tiger” Gronkowski, I’m looking at you), Barry has actual musical talent. He hails from a showbiz family — his father was the conductor for Nat King Cole, his mother was a violinist and singer, and he used to play guitar in his sister’s band — and since retiring from baseball, he has settled in Nashville to focus on his music career. He even cracked Billboard’s Heatseekers chart and garnered positive reviews with his debut EP, No Secrets. But Barry was still able to keep one secret: that he was the man behind the Rhino mask. He certainly brought his A-game this season.